I decided not to have an emotionally charged pitch, but passed out flyers to incoming families saying “Free Information about the Circus.” Eric from PETA was even nicer. “Did you get one of these?” he’d ask with genuine warmth. “Thanks a lot. We’re asking people to make this their last visit to the circus.” He was a pro. No wailing guilt trips or useless harassment as I’ve seen from some so-called activists. Many people assume that “everyone” at a protest is from PETA or some other animal welfare organization. Not true.
In the late 1980s, During my early days at anti-veal and anti-vivisection protests, a random guy named Jingles would come all dressed in bells and baggy hippie-clown attire while the organizers from Last Chance for Animals would arrive in suits. ANYWAY, although I felt fairly robotic in comparison to Eric’s humanity, I learned that it was effective to just hand out the flyer without a preamble. Perhaps some people felt “tricked” into being handed a depressing image, but others seemed quite open. I didn’t see a lot of these pamphlets littering the ground the way I do when Vegan Outreach comes to Glendale College and I scoop up the numberless images of factory farms blanketing the campus. Only one person at the circus handed the flyer back to me. This year, like last year, a couple of people who didn’t yet have tickets to the circus changed their minds after looking at the literature–probably the baby elephants being “trained” with ropes and bull hooks. One woman actually broke down. Continue reading